Though its origins have many interdisciplinary antecedents, the concept of performativity is thought to have at

least partly emerged through the notion of speech acts or performative utterances. J.L. Austin, British language

philosopher and author, is thought to have originated the concept of the performative speech act in his book,

How to Do Things with Words, posthumously published in 1962. While the book is an exhaustive exploration of

these terms, his general understanding of a performative utterance (or a performative) is that it is a statement that

“say[s] something as well as do[es] something” (140). The classic example of this is the wedding response, “I do.”

The sentence is a spoken utterance, but it is also an act that takes place in speech.* 


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File:JLAustin.jpg
















*Among others, John Searle expands upon Austin's theories by exploring and classifying the different types of
speech acts in his 1969 book, Speech Acts, "Speech Acts: An Essay in the Philosophy of Language," and
Expression and Meaning, published in 1979.